The funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by the National Lottery, has been welcomed by the team as the charity continues to adapt its services and upgrade its dated equipment.
Cat Vizor, director, said: “We are hugely grateful to have received this funding to help us navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic. This enables ESTEEM to work flexibly in reacting to the rapidly-changing needs of young people.
“Since lockdown began, ESTEEM’s safeguarding team has received 70 safeguarding forms from staff, highlighting the strain on both young people and the staff team.
“As the pandemic took hold in late-March, ESTEEM quickly transformed support services and vocational opportunities, from face-to-face activities to remotely accessible online interactions, without missing a beat.
“The Lottery funding will help ensure that the amazing work created with young people over these past four months can continue and expand and ensure post Covid-19 future sustainability.”
ESTEEM has been gradually reopening its offices, the kitchen and counselling rooms, and in doing so, the charity has found more specialist skills have been needed.
New staff roles have been introduced to create parallel working structures, one virtual, one in situ. These roles are a full-time marketing and communications manager, plus part-time positions for a youth IT assistant, HR officer and fundraising officer.
Cat said: “The funding will help ensure all staff have the time, resources and systems to run safe, effective online activities and services.
“The ESTEEM building and offices will also see more improvements to prevent the spread of Covid-19, ensuring in-person services and opportunities meet requirements and government and National Youth Agency guidelines.
“Currently, staff and volunteers are using personal computers, which goes against ESTEEM’s safe working practices and GDPR - the funding will allow an upgrade of our IT equipment and systems, and will provide better facilities for over 200 young people, staff, mentors and the organisation as a whole.”
Volunteer Connor, 19, has been active in driving this funding push and worked on the application. He helps the charity as a social media assistant but would like additional opportunities on more up-to-date systems.
Connor said: “Since joining ESTEEM as a volunteer, I’ve had the opportunity to gain real IT experience, a field of work I’m attempting to get into. However, with the limitations of ESTEEM’s technical infrastructure, which is lacking important technologies, my learning is starting to slow.
“I would appreciate more opportunities for myself and others to gain experience and progress into relevant jobs or apprenticeships further down the line. With the current state of the job market since the Covid-19 lockdown, this is of vital importance to me.”
The ESTEEM building in Ham Road, Shoreham, works in partnership with arts charity Company Paradiso and charity network Fairshare, which using the kitchen to store food.
According to ESTEEM’s figures, 28 per cent of young people did not have access to enough food during lockdown. As restrictions lift, its kitchen will once again be used to cook meals for groups of 20 to 30 young people and the number of meals prepared and delivered through ESTEEM’s adult volunteers will increase.
Cat said: “Volunteers have told us they are keen to get involved after seeing ESTEEM’s cookery videos and social media updates. Our current kitchen is simply unfit for purpose, being over 40 years old and not built for commercial use.
“With increased levels of hygiene required to prevent the spread of Covid-19, ESTEEM’s kitchen needs new equipment and storage, which the funding will help with, to ensure the safe return to the building for everyone, with clean and hygienic storage, food preparation areas and handwashing facilities.”
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